Legal and Ethical Issues

All the relevant legislative acts and standards of ethics need to be followed when collecting, using and sharing research data.

Read about Academic ethics.

The aim of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is to support knowledge about, acceptance and entrenchment of research integrity in the Estonian research community. 

The objective of the Copyright Act is to create a balance between the author's rights and the public interest. Regarding research, the moral rights belong to the author, but the economic rights belong to the employer (university, research institution). Some licenses allow the author to waive some of their rights.

The objective of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is to protect, in relation with the processing of personal data, the fundamental rights and fundamental freedom of the natural person in concordance with the public interest.

In the context of open data, the most serious problem proves to be how to guarantee the protection of personal data in a way that none of the research data that is made available to the public can be connected with concrete persons (e.g. social research, medical examinations).

Several anonymisation techniques have been developed for this purpose,  these belong to the field of data science.

To analyze confidential data without compromising privacy, a database and analytics system Sharemind that works on encrypted data without decrypting it has been worked out in University of Tartu.

The authors need to know:

  • Do not collect any personal or sensitiive data not essential for your research
  • If possible, collect the necessary data without using personally identifying information
  • you need informed consent from people participating
  • If personally identifying information is required, de-identify your data upon collection or as soon as possible 
  • Avoid transmitting unencrypted personal data electronically
  • Keep your storage devices secure